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André B. Silva: Mt. Meru


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André B. Silva: Mt. Meru
Those unfamiliar with the esoterica of the Hindu or Buddhist religious traditions may not know much about Mount Meru, a mysterious metaphysical destination said to be at the center of the world, either geographically or spiritually (or both). There is a Mount Meru in Tanzania as well, but Portuguese guitarist André B. Silva clearly has the former concept in mind on this enigmatic, meditative septet release. Six winding, patiently-unfolding pieces create an inviting space for reflection and rumination, a valuable respite from the frantic, chaotic world we inhabit.

Silva plays with bassist Filipe Louro and drummer Pedro Melo Alves in Rite of Trio, a band with an infectious jazz-rock spirit, documented most recently on Free Development of Delirium (Clean Feed, 2021). The instrumentation alone on Mt. Meru suggests a very different, chamber-based aesthetic. There are dark-hued resonances courtesy of Sophie Bernado's bassoon and Paulo Bernardino's bass clarinet, which complement cellist Raquel Reis and alto saxophonist José Soares. Bassist André Carvalho and drummer Ricardo Coelho round out the group, although they are often employed as much for texture as anything resembling a conventional "rhythm" section.

Silva's music requires effort to absorb, as its themes emerge gradually, with interesting detours along the way. Tracks like "Caronte em Chamas" and "Expurgo e Catarse" offer furtive moods and atmosphere in abundance. Silva's simple phrases overlay the rich voicings the ensemble provides on "Caronte." Eventually the piece settles into something a bit more fixed, with bassist Carvalho limning the parameters with a subtle ostinato part that then makes room for a gripping solo from Reis, but stopping short of the piece taking on a more defined shape until the group comes together to punch out some chords during a sort of stop-time coda. "Expurgo" is even more abstract, a sixteen-minute journey that pivots between brief, composed sections—some of which get a bit wild and wooly—and much more amorphous indeterminacy, giving the players a platform for their own individual interjections. "O Retorno de Saturno" is another captivating piece, a ten-minute odyssey that begins in odd meter with Coelho's vibraphone ostinato and then transitions into a pensive reverie in waltz tempo.

The classical precision of Silva's compositions does lend a certain austerity to the music. But the lovely folk-like melody of the album's closer, "Meditação da Montanha," is quite charming. And the measured exuberance of a piece like "5:06," with its insistent rhythm and animated solo from alto saxophonist Soares, illustrates Silva's ongoing engagement with the jazz tradition, keeping the music from becoming too otherworldly in its quest for transcendence.

Track Listing

Caronte em Chamas; 5:06; O Retorno de Saturno; Oleka; Expurgo e Catarse; Meditação da Montanha.


Album information

Title: Mt. Meru | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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